Celebrate Local Athletes and Create Awareness of Sports and Activites for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Cincinnati Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired (CABVI) is pleased to partner with the United States Association of Blind Athletes and the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to implement the fourth iteration of the USABA/Anthem Foundation National Fitness Challenge. This year, USABA is partnering with 12 agencies across the United States, including CABVI, to provide more than 500 blind and visually impaired teenagers and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels, as well as live healthier and more active lives.
In Cincinnati, USABA Fitness Challenge Events are held every Wednesday and on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month from September 2015 through end of May 2016. Activities take place at LeBlond Recreation Center on Riverside Drive and include Goalball which is a Paralympic sport played in teams of three by both sighted and people with visual impairments. The object of the game is to throw a ball, which has bells embedded in it into the opponent’s goal.
Beeper Kickball is an adapted sport for people who are visually impaired or blind. It is played on a flat grassy field with a ball that beeps and two bases that buzz. There is no second base, no throwing the ball and no running around all the bases. There are five players on each team and everyone wears a blindfold to equalize the differences in vision. The kicker kicks the ball and runs to tag the buzzing base, either first or third. If he tags the base before a fielder picks up the ball, he is safe and scores a run. If a fielder picks up the ball first, the runner is out.
Research has consistently shown that individuals who particpate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their ablities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.
“Our mission at CABVI is to empower people who are blind or visually impaired with opportunities to seek independence. Through the National Fitness Challenge, the individuals we serve have the chance to engage in activities that support their independence, increase physical activity, and foster healthy behaviors. It’s also a fun social outlet that helps people connect which is a great way to keep the mind and spirit healthy, too,” said John Mitchell, CEO of CABVI.
Wyatt Hildebrecht of Highland County, Ohio, now age 18, lost his vision suddenly during his eighth grade year. He was a very active teenager who enjoyed a variety of sports. When he lost his vision, he thought he would never play sports again. As a client at CABVI, Wyatt was introduced to the sport of Goalball. He was hesitant at first, but Wyatt’s parents made sure he got to his practices, which were over an hour drive each way.
Wyatt excelled at the sport. So much so, he was chosen to attend a camp in Colorado where he made connections with other Goalball athletes. In 2015, Wyatt was one of only six teenagers in the U.S. chosen by USABA to be an American Goalball ambassador during a trip to Moscow. The visiting athletes visited schools in Russia to promote inclusion and demonstrate the sport. Hildebrecht says, “Goalball would have to be my favorite sport that I currently play. Having the opportunity to travel the world and meeting other athletes has helped me grow as a person, both physically and emotionally, and has also allowed me to get better as an athlete.”
On Satruday, April 16, 1:00-4:00 p.m., the public is invited to celebrate Paralympic Day at Leblond Recreation Center, 2235 Riverside Drive. There will be demonstrations and participation in some Paralympic Sports activities, including Wheelchair Basketball, Goalball, and Boccia Ball. Kara Ayers, who set two American records during the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, will be a guest speaker at the event. She will share her experience and discuss the impact adapted sports have had on her life.
Since 1911, CABVI provides counseling, rehabilitation, information and employment services to people of all ages in the Greater Cincinnati region. Through all of its programs and services, it strives to help those who are blind, visually or print impaired lead full and independent lives. CABVI provides services to approximately 5,000 people each year. For more information about CABVI, please call (513) 221-8558 or visit our website at www.cincyblind.org.
About United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)
Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. USABA’s mission: to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. www.usaba.org | Twitter: @USABA1 | Facebook: United States Association of Blind Athletes
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.